Nepal, Lanka trade ties need expanding

Kathmandu, July 18:

Nepal and Sri Lanka have much in common, said businessmen at an interaction ‘Nepal-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Prospects,’ with visiting minister for Trade Marketing Development Cooperative and Consumer Services of Sri Lanka Bandula Gunawardhana here today.

“The people of both countries face similar challenges and aspirations of getting out of the vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation,” Kush Kumar Joshi, president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) said. He added that both these countries have been meeting similar obstacles in getting integrated into the world economy and vying to create niches for themselves in the world.

However, trade and investment between the two South Asian countries is insignificant. “Nepal exported Rs 2.2 million worth goods in 2005-06 and Rs 3.1 million worth goods in 2006-07,” he added.

Joshi also highlighted the need to increase trade and investment between the two countries as there are only four Sri Lankan joint venture companies in the service sector in Nepal.

“Growth in trade and and investment can be accomplished with the joint effort of both the governments and private sector,” he said, welcoming the initiative of both governments in joining the free trade agreement.

Nepal can benefit immensely from partnership with Sri Lankan entrepreneurs. Despite being a war-hit country, Sri Lanka’s growth rate is remarkably higher than Nepal’s.

Recently, FNCCI partnered with Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to launch South Europe meets South Asia (SEMSA), a project designed to facilitate technological and business matchmaking events for SMEs in IT, IT-related services and processed food sector in the targeted countries.

Earlier, at the promotion seminar of SEMSA, FNCCI senior vice-president Suraj Vaidya stressed on wider trade relations between the two countries. “We have the potential but need to push it ahead,” he said.

The matchmaking event — that will provide immense support and dynamism in boosting export and promoting investment in the region — under the SEMSA project is scheduled to be held on 27-28 February 2009 in Colombo. The project will be support establishment of networking between Nepali and Sri Lankan enterprises and their South Asian counterparts.

Due to poor connectivity, only 30,275 Sri Lankan tourists visited Nepal in 2006. The number is only 7.7 per cent of the total tourist arrival in Nepal in 2006. Joshi urged better connectivity in future.